2001 Charlotte Street Fund Exhibition

September 7 - October 31

Overview

Ken Ferguson, "Hare on Wheels," 1998, Stoneware and brass, Collection of Herb and Nancy Kohn
Installation view, Eric Sall
Installation view, left: Lester Goldman
Detail, Lester Goldman, "Props for a Breathless Liar," 2001, Acrylic on canvas with foam and wood, Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
Ken Ferguson, "Udder T-Pot with Mermaid Handle," 2000, Stoneware, Collection of Scott & Leslie Lerner
Kati Toivanen, "Magic Night Light #2," 2001, from series First Rite Games, Lamp, Courtesy of the artist
Kati Toivanen, "Hair," 2001, (from series First Rite Games), Interactive puzzle

Since 1997, the Charlotte Street Fund has been honoring the work of outstanding visual artists in the Kansas City area with an award and group exhibition. Each year, recipients are selected by a panel of local arts professionals and awards are announced in the spring. This is the fifth annual Charlotte Street Fund exhibition, featuring new and recent work by the 2001 award recipients: David Ford, Lester Goldman, Leeah Joo, Eric Sall, and Kati Toivanen. A Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented to Ken Ferguson, whose work was included in the exhibition.
 
David Ford, an artist, curator/gallerist, and culture maker with a long-time presence in the Kansas City art community, was represented in the exhibition by a selection of paintings, drawings, and a performance that occurred during the opening reception. Ford’s work has been presented in numerous one-person and group exhibitions -  including the Artspace’s Kansas City Flatfile and Johnson County Community College Gallery of Art’s Perspective: Kansas City in 1998 (selected by Raphael Rubinstein, senior editor for Art in America), numerous alternative spaces in Kansas City, and museums and galleries in Mexico and Latin America.
  
Lester Goldman, Professor of Painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, has developed a body of work that references painting, theater, performance, sculpture, and puppetry. In this exhibition, Goldman created 3 colorful, dynamic works, including an installation, that combines all these elements. Goldman’s work has been included in exhibitions at Grand Arts, Joseph Nease Gallery, and Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum, among others.
 
Leeah Joo, Special Instructor of Painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, presented four realistic paintings that combine portraiture, still life, and landscape. Joo’s paintings focus on the subtle, intimate and mundane moments of everyday life. Joo is a recipient of the Helen W. Winternitz Award from the Yale School of Art, and has been included in several group exhibitions and in two one-person exhibitions at the Michael Cross Gallery, Kansas City.
   
Eric Sall, a 1999 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, is one of the youngest artists to receive the Charlotte Street Fund award. Recently, Sall’s work has been included in one-person and group exhibitions at the Joseph Nease Gallery, The Gallery at Village Shalom, and the Artspace’s Kansas City Flatfiles.
 
Kati Toivanen, Assistant Professor of Art at the faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has been exploring themes of childhood, in photographs and sculpture and presents a new group of work made specifically for this exhibition. Toivanen’s work has been exhibited at the Stocksdale Gallery at William Jewell College, the Old Post Office in the West Bottoms, and in the Artspace’s Kansas City Flatfile.
 
Ken Ferguson, former Professor and Chair of Ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute, was the second recipient of the Charlotte Street Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to Wilbur Niewald in 1999. Ferguson has been honored nationally for his career as an artist and educator and was the focus of a retrospective exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in 1995.  
 
Since its inception, by 2001 the Charlotte Street Fund had presented a total of 28 awards totaling $107,500. Previous recipients were Tom Gregg, Adriane Herman, Peregrine Honig, Warren Rosser, Jesse Small, James Woodfill, Nate Fors, Ke-Sook Lee, Michael Rees, Michael Sinclair, Bridget Stewart, Wilbur Niewald, Patrick Clancy, Archie Scott Gobber, Anne Lindberg, Judi Ross, Judith Sanazaro, Tony Allard and Kristine Deikman, James Brinsfield, Russell Ferguson, and Mary Wessel.
 
Additional information about the Charlotte Street Foundation may be found at: www.charlottestreet.org
 
The 2001 Charlotte Street Foundation Exhibition was curated by Kate Hackman. The Charlotte Street Fund Advisory Committee included: David Hughes, Jr. (American Century Companies), John O’Brien (Dolphin Gallery), Melissa Rountree (Hallmark Fine Arts Collection), Raechell Smith (H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute), and Mark Spencer (Hallmark Cards, Inc.). Invited nominators for 2001 were Jim Calcara, Nate Fors, and Kate Hackman. Financial support for the exhibition has been provided, in part, by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
 
The following public programs ran in conjunction with the exhibition:
Saturday, October 6, 2:00 p.m.
Kate Hackman, guest curator, facilitated a gallery talk with the Charlotte Street Fund artists.
 
Saturday, October 20, 2:00 p.m.
Visiting Critic/Curator Program Public Lecture
After two days of studio visits with Kansas City artists, Kathryn Hixson, editor of the New Art Examiner, who lives and works in Chicago, spoke about her involvement with the New Art Examiner and the visual arts in Chicago and the Midwest. Hixson’s visit to Kansas City received support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and Grand Arts.

 

Checklist

 

Ken Ferguson
Udder T-Pot with Mermaid Handle, 2000
stoneware
Collection of Scott & Leslie Lerner
 
Ken Ferguson
Hare on Wheels, 1998
stoneware and brass
Collection of Herb and Nancy Kohn
 
Ken Ferguson
Hare Platter, 1990
stoneware
Collection of Jerry and Lenny Berkowitz
 
Ken Ferguson
Basket with Triple Hair Handle, 1998
stoneware
Collection of Steve and Barbara Abend
 
Ken Ferguson
Lidded Jar with Pedestal, 1998
stoneware
(wood pedestal fabricated by Russell Ferguson)
Courtesy of Dolphin Gallery
 
Eric Sall
Golden Moldie, 2001
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
 
Eric Sall
Footnote, 2001
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
 
Lester Goldman
Two Feet, Three and a Half Hats
and One Gifted Liar, 2001
mixed media
Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
 
Lester Goldman
TJ Tells The Truth, 2001
copper, painted aluminum, wood
Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
 
Eric Sall
The Bungler, 2001
oil on canvas
Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
 
Lester Goldman
Props for a Breathless Liar, 2001
acrylic on canvas with foam and wood
Courtesy of Joseph Nease Gallery
 
David Ford
BONUS KILL, 2001
acrylic, wood, damar on canvas
 
David Ford
El baratero, 2001
mixed media on canvas
 
David Ford
i love you, 2001
acrylic on canvas
 
David Ford
Improved protection
acrylic and damar on paper
 
David Ford
Meaningful abstract 13
wood, enamel on paper
 
David Ford
Thunder Bomb
wood and acrylic on paper
 
David Ford
su boleto
wood and acrylic on paper
 
David Ford
out of the bag
mixed media on paper
 
Kati Toivanen
Memories, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
interactive game
 
Kati Toivanen
Hair, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
interactive puzzle
 
Kati Toivanen
Bedtime Stories, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
View-master reels #1 and #2
 
Kati Toivanen
Bedtime Stories, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
View-master reels #3 and #4
 
Kati Toivanen
Bedtime Stories, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
View-master reel #1
 
Kati Toivanen
Bedtime Stories, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
View-master reel #2
 
Kati Toivanen
Magic Night Light #1, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
mixed media
 
Kati Toivanen
Magic Night Light #2, 2001
(from series First Rite Games)
mixed media
 
Kati Toivanen
Magic Night Light #2, 2001
from series First Rite Games
lamp
 
Leeah Joo
Summer Night, 2001
oil on wood panel
 
Leeah Joo
Twilight Imposition, 2001
oil on wood panel
 
Leeah Joo
Somewhere Out There, 2001
oil on wood panel
 
Leeah Joo
Midday Strain, 2001
oil on wood panel


Exhibition Checklist PDF

 

 

Essay

Charlotte Street Fund 2001
Kate Hackman
 
Established in 1997 to recognize outstanding artistic achievement, the Charlotte Street Fund has distributed $107,500 in direct grants to twenty-eight local artists.  In economic terms, these grants enable artists to focus on creating work, often providing means for experimentation with new formats and approaches.  In terms of career, the award and consequent exhibition offer significant acclaim, encouragement, exposure, and opportunity for critical feedback.  On a broader level, the Fund raises the bar in Kansas City, representing a goal for emerging artists to work toward and an increased sense of the city’s viability as a place for working artists to stay.  As the Fund celebrates its fifth anniversary, it should come as no surprise to find Kansas City commanding national attention for the richness of artwork being made right here and now.
This year, the Charlotte Street Fund honors David Ford, Lester Goldman, Leeah Joo, Eric Sall, Kati Toivanen and the Lifetime Achievement of Kenneth Ferguson.  Their diversity testifies to the breadth of work being made here, as well as to the expansive terrain of contemporary art in general.  Yet while embodying unique sensibilities, one aspect these artists share is a hybrid or heterogeneous quality – a refusal to be confined or easily categorized. Rather, they embrace fluidity, a slippage among genres or media.  A “photographer” pushes into the realm of installation;  “painters” create three-dimensional works or blur lines between figurative and abstract, formal and conceptual, naïve and knowing. Engaging body and mind, their artworks require an active viewer to participate in physical play, navigate multiple viewpoints, or negotiate the competing and conflicting tendencies of a single surface. Complex as life itself, their creations reside in that fertile zone which is the in between.
 
 
David Ford
A prolific, multi-faceted artist, David Ford’s efforts span a range of disciplines and cultures. Throughout, his work exemplifies an approach of culling and combining images and information from a variety of sources – a popular practice in the latter half of the 20th century.  Yet unlike many artists, Ford does not borrow forms without concern for the contexts from which they derive and meanings they carry. Drawing together signs of “First World” and “Third World,” “East” and “West,” “high” and “low,” “beauty” and “ugliness,” “piety” and “sacrilege,” he constructs an arena for a complex dance of competing forces, a boxing match in which clash is exploited. Individual images and phrases function as the formal and conceptual building blocks of a fluid, ever-morphing and expanding language of which each artwork is one possible expression.
 
The stress between opposing tendencies ultimately forces reevaluation. Sublimation and degradation are inseparable as yin and yang. When a kitschy rainbow is painted onto a crude wooden cutout in el baratero (“the lowest”), does it become so pathetic and downtrodden as to be again beautiful, true, meaningful?  The peasant woman at the heart of i love you is simultaneously goddess and whore, a trans-cultural Shiva derived from liquor bottle label who offers comforts both sinful and sincere. As in a pinball game, a gorgeous orange tiger, sailing ship and leaping flames compete for attention in BONUS KILL.  Always proffering choice, Ford straddles between “I love you,” and “I would KILL KILL KILL,” simultaneously drawing us in and pushing us away. For an “infinite maquette” performed/presented on the exhibition’s opening night, he places a small plastic ball, bearing the hand-painted phrase “the past,” a block away, guarded and surrounded by props.  On the sidewalk outside the gallery, a telescope, carefully positioned, frames “the past” in its lens. Where does the artwork exist – in the view captured by the scope, at the scene itself, in the distance between them, in our own minds? The gap between here and there is infinite, an open field of play. Yet like the past itself, that vast space is collapsed and contained in the limited frame of the lens.  As in the rest of his work, Ford highlights the difference while exploring the connection. Offering intimacy and distance, symbol and substance, he seeks to upset the fixed equations by which we order the world.
 
Lester Goldman
Perhaps no artist in Kansas City understands better than Lester Goldman the possibilities enabled by exploding pre-existing borders. Long a major presence in the art community, Goldman has influenced students and peers alike as Professor of painting at Kansas City Art Institute since 1966 and through challenging exhibition projects. Yet while his work manifests a confidence and vision informed by years of experience, among Goldman’s attributes are an almost childlike energy, inventiveness, and disposal to play.
 
Once a realist painter, Goldman incorporates figurative elements in Two Feet, Three and a Half Hats and One Gifted Liar, though here they bear the influence of investigations into theater, performance, and puppetry. Inspired by an earlier painting, this work translates two-dimensional surface into three-dimensional presence, reinventing striped and solid shapes as life-sized actors in a perpetually unfolding drama. While conventional painting requires compressing forms into flat space, here Goldman’s illusions enter the “real world,” enabling viewers to interact with them physically and directly – to know them better. Further, the painting/sculpture hybrid is site specific, as shadows cast upon its purple backdrop become integral to the work’s completion. In the mid 80s, Goldman undertook a ten-year, three-exhibition project, The Latest Blow to Mirth, juxtaposing paintings, sculptures, collaborative performance, film, video and music. Offering multi-sensory, kinetic environments, he imagined the viewer’s experience as akin to wandering inside one of Joseph Cornell’s boxed assemblages. Goldman’s latest work reflects this will to create a vibrant, shifting stage, though here he succinctly channels that impulse into the framework of a single “painting.”
Goldman’s transgression of boundaries to open room for alternate interpretation surfaces in every choice he makes. A scavenger of materials, he understands the beauty and integrity of a scrap of metal, gourd, or brown paper bag, where functionality, wear and tear, and/or non preciousness lend a vitality often exceeding that of more traditional art materials. A found sheet of copper, marked with fingerprints, tells the “truth”. Vinyl fabric - pliant, colorful, and durable - is well suited to sculptural use, yet its life as the stuff of gymnastic mats or padded rooms lends other connotations. Dressmakers’ patterns inject bodily references into abstract paintings, while their cut lines and arrows contribute gesture, movement and directionality. Just as a belief in disrupting fixity once prompted him to pose a still model amidst a circulating rollerblader, Goldman’s work lives perched on the ledge between chaos and control, chance and essence, here and there.
 
Leeah Joo
Whether as moody interior scenes or sites of construction and demolition, Leeah Joo is drawn to multivalent moments. Focusing on the subtle matter of the everyday, her paintings hinge on a dynamic of simultaneous convergence and dislocation, interface and isolation. With directness and intelligence, grounded by a firm command of realist painting, Joo mines the seemingly mundane for its metaphorical resonance.
Residing at the intersection of portraiture, still life, and landscape, with a distinctly conceptual bent, Joo’s newest paintings incorporate her immediate environment as subject.  Specifically, they capture the view caught in the windowpane of her attic studio, where bits of the world beyond – patch of grass, rooftop – mingle with reflections of the interior. Painted at various times of day, the balance between that seen through and that reflected by the window’s glass shifts from one to the next.  A disruptive metal grille, filtering light and casting shadows (while also introducing a grid-like pattern that invokes the language of abstract painting), anchors the painted image to a specific physical location: the point between inside and out. Physically separating interior and exterior, domestic and worldly, confinement and freedom, self and other, it operates as a means of crystallizing the symbolic divisions blurred elsewhere.  In this way, too, the grille heightens conflict between the window’s transparent and mirroring natures, between deep space (the view out) and flat surface (the reflected within).
By obstructing our view of any one thing, Joo promotes longing for whole, uncompromised vision. Making us aware of but also thwarting our desire for a pure “window” onto the world, she reminds us, as did Magritte in pairing an image of a pipe with the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” that a painting is a painting – not the thing itself. (Both view and reflection are illusions, skillfully rendered on a flat surface.) Further, by obfuscating and infusing the landscape with her own self-portrait, Joo makes explicit her role as image-maker, as the filter through which the viewer’s experience is mediated.  While residing as an elusive, shadowy reflection, she reveals herself before us as the author of our vision. 
 
Eric Sall
A 1999 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Eric Sall is just beginning his artistic career.  Nonetheless, the assured, evocative paintings shown in recent exhibitions, including a major solo show at Joseph Nease Gallery in 2000, have definitively announced an emerging talent.  In these newest works – his largest ever – Sall demonstrates a keen awareness of where painting has been, while asserting a unique vision.  Their monumental scale, splattered backgrounds, energetic surfaces and the sheer physicality of Sall’s process attest to the influence of Abstract Expressionism, embodied in the figure of Jackson Pollock. Yet, savvy to postmodernism’s deconstuctive discourse (which argues against the idea of “pure” painting, claiming instead the ever-presence of real world referents) Sall introduces what feel to be tangible objects.  Crisp outlines imposed on even the most abstract, painterly passages transform them into shapes that feel like something, thus creating a spatial division between foreground and background that mimics the format of a landscape. Here again, we are in an in between zone. This push pull is furthered by elements bordering on the figurative. Bleeding purples and blacks suggest delicate Chinese ink paintings of mountains. Flat stripes double as a shallow box, from which a densely colored field exuberantly emerges like the springing clown of a jack in the box. Another painterly form reads as a leg extended, sandwiching a gray object between two toes. Yet lest we begin to believe in these as representations of actual objects, Sall lets drips of paint flow over their borders. Thus collapsing the illusionistic space he has begun to create, he sets in motion a perpetual back and forth.
 
Kati Toivanen
Kati Toivanen is emblematic of a younger generation of artists using the camera as a tool for creating artworks as conceptually rich as they are technically accomplished. Equally at ease with computers as with film, she moves freely among approaches, adapting tactics to suit ideas.  This facility is evident in work created specifically for the Artspace, where the photograph serves merely as a starting point for sculpture, installation, even performance. Here Toivanen weaves together many themes explored through earlier bodies of work including issues of gender stereotypes, sexuality, play and games, voyeurism, a tension between the seen and unseen, the suggestive and explicit.
Toivanen has created an interactive space, inviting a process of personal discovery.  Using a strategy of appropriation, she relies on familiarity with popular games and toys to draw us into play, then disrupts expectation.  In lieu of the seemingly innocuous images we nostalgically anticipate are pictures of baby dolls, often mangled from use and abuse, or images of tangled, synthetic hair. Each presentation represents a specific permutation of ideas.  A memory game, comprising a search for pairs, requires flipping red cardboard squares – an activity evoking a peep show, where fragments of bodies are revealed then quickly concealed. A puzzle involves a prolonged quest to reconcile hundreds of pieces into one seamless whole. The very name “Viewmaster” alludes to the possessive nature of the viewer’s gaze, as we peer through lenses to spy life-like visions held forever beyond reach. Through all of these formats, Toivanen explores desire as a suspended longing, seduction as reliant on delaying/denying satisfaction. (Once the puzzle is complete, it no longer holds our attention.) Disturbing this formula by means of un-idealized images ranging from alarming to absurd, heart-wrenching to repulsive, she forces an awareness and self-consciousness that counteract the escapist pleasure of play.  The rigorous stylistic closeness of her co-options to their standard forms – crisp, graphic, iconic, commercially packaged – renders them all the more potent.  We are left to question the nature of these games and dolls - and ourselves - as plastic eyes stare back, demanding a second look.
 
 
Ken Ferguson
The second-ever recipient of a Charlotte Street Fund Lifetime Achievement Award, Ken Ferguson is an artist whose accomplishments are lauded not just in Kansas City, but internationally.  As Professor and Chair of the ceramics department at Kansas City Art Institute for over thirty years, subject of a major retrospective of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and countless other exhibitions, and one who continues to make work into his 70’s, Ferguson has imparted a love and respect for clay to multitudes.
As a graduate student at Alfred University, resident potter and studio manager at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, and through years of teaching, Ferguson mastered the craft of functional pottery, developing formidable skills on the wheel and in handling glazes that integrally inform his work today.  Yet as his command of the medium expanded over the years, so too has his willingness to assert his own creativity.  Functional pots yielded to works meant for display, in which the physical experience of touching an object is replaced by an energy so visceral it feels tactile.  In the context of this exhibition, Ferguson’s work looks both timeless and remarkably contemporary.  Too, it shares with the younger artists’ work a hybrid nature.  The leaping hares of Basket with Triple Hare Handle effortlessly bind Eastern and Western influences, the spontaneous, expressive gesture and the carefully planned form, tradition and innovation, strength and fragility, grace and awkwardness. Udder T-Pot with Mermaid Handle derives its tripodal shape (three separate vessels dexterously fused together) from the traditional Chinese “li” form, the sensuality and sexual connotations of which Ferguson flaunts. Adding a half-drooping phallic spout, world-weary mermaid’s head, and glaze that activates the surface while suggesting both mossy growth and patina, he transforms the vessel into a lively, multi-gendered, multi-cultural stage, which yet retains powerful wholeness.  This and all of Ferguson’s works teem with vitality, as formal prowess weds lyrical expression to glorious effect.
 

 

Events

Press

Press Release

2001 Charlotte Street Fund Exhibition
KCAI Website |
Sat, 2001-09-01

This is the fifth annual Charlotte Street Fund exhibition, featuring new and recent work by the 2001 award recipients: David Ford, Lester Goldman, Leeah Joo, Eric Sall, and Kati Toivanen. A Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented to Ken Ferguson, whose work will be included in the exhibition. 

Selected Press

Art From the Street by Elisabeth Kirsch
The Kansas City Star |
Fri, 2001-11-16

Exhibit highlights Charlotte Street Fund Award winners.

Educational Art by Elizabeth Murray
Kansas City Homes and Gardens |
Thu, 2001-11-01

Noted for its unique public arty billboard, the Artspace features interesting exhibits and instructional tools.

Charlotte Street Exhibition Opens September 7 by Kate Hackman
Review |
Sun, 2001-07-01

$107, 500 in direct grants has gone to local artists.

Winning Works by Alice Thorson
The Kansas City Star |
Sun, 2001-03-25

The checks are in the mail to this year's Charlotte Street Fund Award winners.